Hoarding and Gifting

We live in a culture where wealth is expressed through hoarding, and through the ownership of prestige things – big houses, yachts, aeroplanes etc. However, this is not the only way to express wealth and power. Many of our Pagan ancestors were much more into the idea of showing off your wealth by ostentatiously giving it away. The underlying psychology of the two positions is fascinating.

Hoarding is what you do when you fear scarcity. You create a big pile to sit on, so that you, and you alone can benefit if things get tough. Hoarding is the response to an unfair, unkind world that will turn on you and take away your good fortune. The pile is never big enough to let the hoarder feel truly safe.

Gifting assumes that you have the power to generate more resources. You can give away everything, because there will be scope to make new. It assumes your own prowess is equal to whatever the future throws at you and comes from a place of optimism and confidence.

There are things about both stances that create feedback loops. If you hoard, then you will generate jealousy and resentment in those around you. Your bigger pile may increase their feelings of scarcity. Hoards invite theft, and in an every man for himself scenario, people won’t help if things go awry. The gifting approach by contrast creates loyalty and support. These are the people who will cheerfully go on the next raid with you, plant the next season’s crops for you, pull out all the stops in an emergency because when times are good, you share it around. When it’s their turn to be the one who can give ostentatiously, the odds are that they will. And thus the person who can gift well and reliably has every reason to expect help when they float some crazy new project out there.

Hoarding takes resources out of use. Gifting keeps them moving towards where they are needed. Hoarding leaves the hoarder fearing the jealousy and theft of others. Gifting lets the gifter feel bountiful and in control.


About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

4 responses to “Hoarding and Gifting

  • Jen - Liminal Luminous

    I’m always trying to give stuff away, although due to my small circle of friends this is primarily to the local charity shop. It does make me feel more generous, dropping off a bag makes me feel light, and you can’t receive anything if your hands are full. And of course that applies to things at so many levels – ideas, gifts, thoughts, love….

  • Linda Davis

    True. When I was into such things, Lent for me became a time not to ‘give something up’ but ‘give something away’ each day. Much more satisfying and useful.
    Alas, this did not save me from the insidious indoctrination of elder members of my family into the Joys of Thrift and I have to confess to cupboards I dare not open lest I be engulfed in an avalanche of plastic containers, drawers so full of bits of ribbon, buttons, string, used padded envelopes etc that I cannot open them without a struggle, not to mention all the pebbles, shells, sea-glass, feathers, twigs & bones – the glamour of my ‘earth-based’ spirituality….please, sisters and brothers, do not resent, but pity me and my hoarding habit!😉

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